Nashville Country versus Texas Country

My roommate is from Nashville, and I’m from Dallas, so when we moved in together, I thought we would be listening to the same country artists. But after a few days of her not knowing some of my favorite artists, such as Josh Abbott Band or Turnpike Troubadours, I discovered that there is a huge difference between Nashville and Texas country music.

Nashville artist Tim McGraw

Nashville artist Tim McGraw

Through asking her a couple questions about what she thinks the difference between the two is, I found a couple key differences. Nashville country is going more pop and mainstream, probably because artists that aren’t country also live and record there. Consequently, Nashville country is more electric than Texas’s, and my roommate also identified that there is a different beat to the songs, possibly because of more of the electronic feel of the artists. Nashville also has a lot of very well known artists, ones that everyone, even people who aren’t into country, know, such as Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Luke Bryan. Here is an example of a Nashville song that is definitely more appealing to the masses.

Texas country, on the other hand, is much more instrumental. Most songs or bands have a fiddle, and it’s more traditional and has stayed instrumental, not really conforming to the changing to pop that Nashville country has evolved to. Texas songs have more conservative elements and motifs, and I think this is because artists in Nashville are celebrities, and celebrities are traditionally Democratic, while in Texas the majority of the population is Republican, so the song elements are more conservative to appeal to the masses. Some artists are nationally known, such as George Strait, but others, like Pat Green or Casey Donahue, are very famous in Texas, but most people from Nashville, like my roommate, had never heard of before.

Texas artist Pat Green

Texas artist Pat Green

Both have similarities, such as the instance of themes such as beer, God, and trucks, but in Texas it feels more authentic, because these artists are not national celebrities and are known to be down-home country people that drink beer, go to church, and drive old trucks. Texas country is simpler than Nashville country, because the Nashville artists are trying to appeal to the whole country, while Texas country is trying to appeal to a smaller group. Texas country also sings about Texas a lot, as evidenced by this Josh Abbott Band song.

I personally like both styles of country music, because I am the type of person that really enjoys variety when I listen to music, but I know that some people prefer the traditional country of Texas, and others prefer the more mainstream, pop-radio friendly country that some artists in Nashville are producing. Some people find Nashville music not country anymore because it is so pop, and this is why many people turn to Texas music for the well known, stereotypical country sound.


Filed under New Country, Texas

9 Responses to Nashville Country versus Texas Country

  1. Samantha Godfrey

    I totally agree with your statement that “Texas country” feels more authentic. After having been to “Nashville country” concerts seeing people like Trace Adkins, The Band Perry, and Jake Owen, and then comparing them to the “Texas Country” of the Josh Abbott Band, the Randy Rogers Band, Roger Creager, and Granger Smith you can understand your meaning of authentic. I agree that “Nashville country” is built towards pop and revolves around the celebrities and the money they care able to bring in. With the authentic “Texas country” it seems as if we all can relate to them, as in they make us feel like they are just like us. They don’t seem see themselves as these public figures. Their attitudes project that they are just singing and having fun with what they’re doing. It is something they truly enjoy. Their interests are not directed towards the money side of the business.

  2. Abby Shamis

    I think you really hit the nail on the head. I am a big fan of the TV show “Nashville” and I can see some of the similarities in what kind of music Hayden Panettiere’s character played at the beginning of the series to the music you classified as a Nashville sound. I would put it in the same category as the Miranda Lambert song you played above. I also think that this clarified some of the points we had talked about in class; for example when we talked about how Nashville is much more business driven and Austin is much more creative and live performance driven. These are clear examples of what we talked about in class and I really agreed with the classification of the different sounds in a lot of instances.

  3. Reid Thompson

    I think you nailed the Nashville vs. Texas country argument pretty well. It’s interesting to me how different the two are even though they both fall under the general country music genre umbrella. Like you, I enjoy a variety of music so I find myself listening to both depending on my mood. I think the real difference for me, however, is that as a Texan, I can truly identify with many of the lyrics that come out of the Texas Country sub-genre. When the Josh Abbott band sings about bluebonnets in the summer, eating Cooper’s barbecue in Llano, or the Dallas sky, I can truly appreciate the lyrics and connect to the song because I have personally experienced all of those things. I think this is why most of our class said “Texas country” was their favorite genre to listen to. Texas country artists sing about real experiences, simple times, and life lessons that matter. While Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, or any other popular Nashville artist may have actually thrown gigantic pool parties and gotten their “sun gaze on”, it is not a very relatable lyric. The lyrics for many of the new Nashville songs are about as over the top as the artists that are singing them. While these songs can be upbeat and fun to sing along to sometimes, as listeners we generally favor lyrics that we can identify with and find meaning in. Texas country does this as well as any music out there in my opinion.

  4. Gabrielle Hernandez

    I never thought too much about the differences until now. I saw every point you had about the differences and began to realize how different the two cultures are. I thought it was very interesting how you also went a bit deeper and analyzed the politics of both locations. Nashville have a bigger popular presence than Texas but that does not mean it is always better. Like you, I enjoy variety so there is no reason for me to complain about it. You should make sure to play those Texas artists for your roommate and show her their greatness. I personally have not been to Tennessee, but I know that I would still choose my home state of Texas anyway.

  5. Dusty Hixenbaugh

    You did a great job incorporating links into this post (thanks!). Like I have said in class, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of “Texas country,” mostly because I find so many holes in every definition of it that I have seen. If you look at the Wikipedia entry for Texas country, you’ll find Miranda Lambert’s name listed among the subgenre’s most prominent performers. So it’s kind of strange (to me) to see you utilizing her music as an example of Nashville country. Also, I’m not sure I agree that Texas country music is more conservative politically. Its heroes are liberals like Willie Nelson, and it’s given rise to deliberately anti-conservative songs like Kacey Musgraves’s “Follow Your Arrow.”

  6. Katie O'Neil

    I very much agree with your argument. I am from Georgia and our country there is way more similar to Nashville Country with artists like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Cole Swindell all being from Georgia. However, since I have lived in Texas I have learned to love bands like Josh Abbott Band and Randy Rogers. I have taken their songs back home with me and introduced them to my friends and family but without me being in Austin I don’t think I would have ever found their music. I also completely agree with the differences in the political views and also how both types of music incorporate the same tropes. It is also very clear on how Texas Country is very centered around the state of Texas when you listen to more Nashville Country artists like Luke Bryan will mention things and places in Georgia but it is never the center of the song.

  7. Taylor Campbell

    This post was really interesting for me because I’ve grown up listening to a healthy mix of both Texas Country and Nashville Country. After reading this I realized that as I got older and started listening to the radio more I’ve transitioned to mainly listening to Nashville Country, which is mostly because, like you said, it targets the celebrity lifestyle and mainstream crowd. Although I agree that Miranda Lambert currently fits under the Nashville Country sound, I believe her first album Kerosene fits the stereotype you described for Texas Country. She has definitely transitioned from that, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just an artist exploring different music styles. Overall I really enjoyed your post and hope to find myself listening to more Texas Country.

  8. Lynden

    It is so difficult to describe the difference between Nashville and Texas country music. I’m so glad you were brave enough to bring the tough topic to the forefront. While it’s true that Nashville music is definitely more widely known, I think it’s awesome the Texas country, bands like Josh Abbott and Randy Rogers, are spreading their wings into other markets. My friends from North Carolina all know about Turnpike Troubadours and love their Texas Country sound. I met a few friends in California this summer who want to make the trip to Arizona to hear some of their favorite Texas country bands who have opened up their tour outside their Texas beginnings.

  9. Randle Cecil

    Madison, I love this post because previously, I had no idea what Nashville country referred to, but now I have a clear understanding. After this post sparked my interest about Nashville in general, I decided to google Nashville country. I found this article called, “Top Country Music Attractions in Nashville” that I thought would be interesting to you because I’m sure these famous places are very familiar to your roommate. Although Nashville country is considered to be more electric and modern, the sites listed on this page show a softer, more hometown feel to Nashville country music and reminded me of Texas country.

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